Chapter 4

Back to California!

The next few years would be a bit of a challenge. As far as my professional music career was concerned, it basically came to a halt. It would take some time to start all over again. I would find myself working 9 to 5 jobs working as a computer draftsman up till my retirement in 2020. Over time, the musical part of my life gradually came back, playing professionally part-time.

There's over 20 years to unpack here!


1998, The Bill Travis Swing Orchestra

In late 1998 I started playing with the Russ Button's Swing Orchestra. It was a rehearsal band that occasionally would play paid performances. A guy named Bill Travis was the drummer. He bought the music library from Russ and renamed the band, The Bill Travis Swing Orchestra. Bill was a retired airline pilot and always wanted to have his own big band.

I eventually became the lead trombone player and did most of the soloing in the trombone section. Shortly after that, I became the male vocalist for the group. We also had a smaller 5-7 piece version of the group that did smaller combo gigs with me as the front man on vocals and trombone. i also became the sound engineer for the bands when we played out.

The audio files below are ones that featured me as the soloist (Mack the Knife) and vocalist.

Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Mack the Knife



1999 and Beyond

Playing with the Bill Travis Orchestra would end up being a re-launch point for my musical career as I met several musicians who I would work with or would end up working for me for many years. A lot of things started happening at the same time so all I can do is try to list them in some kind of order.

I left the band and bought some of Travis's sound equipment as well as other equipment I needed to work as a sound engineer. I was hired by an agent to run sound for one of his wedding/party bands and other venues. It was a lot of work for not much money but I developed a good relationship with this agent and would eventually convince him to book my jazz quartet for private events.

As I said earlier, a lot was happening at this time. John Quam was the pianist in the Travis orchestra and we became good buddies. Back in the 90's, John and a trumpet player named Morty Okin had played with a group called The New Morty Show, a very popular, high energy swing band based in the S.F. Bay Area. John and Morty were putting a new group together based around horn bands like Chicago, Blood sweat and Tears, Tower of Power, etc. I joined the group which was eventually known as Kiss My Brass!

Kiss My Brass

The tracks below were recorded in my studio in 2002-2003. I was featured as the vocalist on Beginnings.

The band members were:

John Quam on keyboards, Russell Golub on guitar, Grant Walthall on drums, Vicki Grossi on bass, Morty Okin on trumpet, Neil Levonius on trumpet, Carroll Ashby on trombone, Joe Escobar on trombone and vocals

Go Down Gamblin'
God Bless The Child
Lucretia Mac Evil
Make Me Smile
Soul Vaccination
Souled Out
What Is Hip
Kiss My Brass Stream >>>>>





Another fun group I played in was the Fancy Sinatras, a Nancy Sinatra cover band. This group was made up of several young ladies that actually worked at Industrial Light and Magic in Marin County. I was part of the horn section and also sang the Frank Sinatra part of the song Something Stupid originally recorded by Frank and Nancy Sinatra.

Fancy Sinatras (2002)

Last of the Secret Agents
Love Is Strange
Day Tripper
Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Stream all 5 tunes here >>>>






I also played with a group that played SKA style reggae music called Undercover SKA. I'm still trying to find some better pics and recordings from when I was with the group.


Undercover S.K.A. (2004)



Throughout my music career in the Bay Area, one of my favorite things was playing Dixieland gigs. In San Francisco, they had an annual Union Street Festival where there would be several jazz bands in front of storefronts on the very trendy Union Street shopping area. We would be assigned a location to play and do a couple of sets for the passers by.

More videos are available on my Youtube Channel:


Joe Escobar's Jazz Cats, July 14, 2007


During this period, around 2007, I had also established a new jazz quartet with John Quam on keys, Steve Comber on bass (both who I met in the Travis band yeears before) and Bill Belasco on drums. We occasionally did some private events, but more and more, budgets were getting smaller. My response to that was using my MIDI programming skills to create drum parts, which enabled me to eliminate the live drums and sell the band as a trio. We landed a steady Sunday night gig at a new Joe Dimaggio's restaurant in the North Beach district of San Francisco. Bob Chandler eventually became my regular bass player. The gig lasted a good 3 years!

More videos are available on my Youtube Channel:


Joe Escobar Trio at Joe Dimaggio's (2007-2010)



It was 2010, and while we were working at Joe Dimaggio's, I was asked if we had a CD for sale. I went ahead and booked some studio time and recorded a CD called "It's My Turn" with a bunch of crooner tunes to sell at gigs and often gave them to wedding clients that hired us for their receptions. The album features:

John Quam on piano, Bob Chandler on bass, Bill Belasco on drums and myself on vocals, trombone and trumpet.

All of the basic tracks were recorded at Expression College in Emeryville, California. I added the vocals and trombone/trumpet in my home studio and also did the final mix and mastering.

The album is available for download at all major music sites like Amazon and Apple Music.



Summer Wind
Steppin' Out with my Baby
I've Got a Crush on You
Beyond the Sea
What a Wonderful World
Too Close for Comfort
Come Fly with Me
The Way You Look Tonight
Fly Me to the Moon
Stream entire album here >>>>>



The gig at Joe Dimaggio's came to an end when the restaurant went out of business.

Shortly after, we lucked out and got another steady Sunday gig at the Paragon Cafe in the Claremont Hotel in Oakland, Ca.

We stayed there for another couple of years until the management changed and they booted us out for another band.

More videos are available on my Youtube Channel:


Joe Escobar Trio at the Paragon Cafe (2011-2013)


San Francisco Giants and 49ers (2012-2013)

While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was always a Giants and 49er fan. I had updated my recording studio and developed an interest in creating music videos. When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, I decided to write a little tune called "Love Those Giants" and created a music video for it. The local San Francisco KRON4 news did a segment about fans doing videos about the Giants which included mine! Below is an edited version of the news broadcast and the actual video.




When the 2013 baseball season began, I redid the arrangement of Love Those Giants, hoping it would get some play at the stadium. Unfortunately it didn't, but I did get the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at AT&T Park in 2013

Love Those Giants 2013




Joe Escobar performing the National Anthem at AT&T Park (2013)


From 2011 to 2014, the coach for the San Francisco 49ers was Jim Harbaugh. The team developed a call and response where Harbaugh would say "Who's got it better than us?" The team would respond with "Nobody!" This carried into the fanbase as well. It prompted me to write a song for the 49ers called "Who's Got It Better Than Us" which i accompanied with a music video when they were in the playoffs in 2012. Shout out to my good friend Russell Golub for his great guitar work. In 2013 the 49ers went to New Orleans to play the Ravens for Super Bowl 47. Because the coaches were brothers, it became known as the Harbowl. To keep with the New Orleans theme, I wrote a little tune called "At The Harbowl in New Orleans" based on a Dixieland standard called Way Down Yonder in New Orleans. Unfortunately they lost!


Who's Got It Better Than Us


At The Harbowl In New Orleans



My last video about the 49ers was when they lost the NFC Championship in 2014 against the Seattle Seahawks to get to Super Bowl. 49er fans hate the Seahawks, so this video was created in hope that they would lose the Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium....but they won!!




Bye Bye Seahawks (2014)

Of course, while i was having fun doing my recordings and videos at home, I was still involved with other music projects. One was called Jazz Search West, a sort of competition which was geared more towards amateur players, but was open to anyone. It featured vocalists and instrumentalists. I went ahead and signed up. One of my qualifying performances was held at The Sound room in Oakland, California. The final performance and judging was at the brand new San Francisco Jazz Center. I was signed up as an instrumentalist but at the final performance I did a vocal performance of Straighten up and Fly Right which surprised the judges as well as the audience.


All of Me at the Sound Room (2013)


Straighten Up and Fly Right at the S.F. Jazz Center (2013)


From about 2012 to 2021, I had the priveledge of playing and singing with Michael Young's Mood Swing Orchestra.

There's nothing like singing in front of a kick-ass big band. This video is from a gig at the Saddle Rack nightclub in Fremont, California. (Normally a country western bar that occasionally had a big band night).


Joe Escobar singing with The Mood Swing Orchestra (2014)


It was 2013. My album had been out for a couple of years, and like many other musicians, I found that I made literally nothing on streams and it was easy for people to find a way to download your music for free.

I wrote the song My Mp3 to bring attention to the problem.

At the time, we had moved across the street and had rented our little house to a Alex Kopel who was an independent filmaker. He loved the tune and insisted that we make a music video. Here is My Mp3.


Joe Escobar's music video of My Mp3




Back in 2013, I wrote my first Christmas song, "Christmas Time's Around the Corner". The song is available for download at all major music sites like Amazon and Apple Music.


Christmas Time's Around the Corner


Here is a recording I did of "The Wee Small Hours" in 2014. I never got around to publishing it.

Wee Small Hours


Also, in 2014, while recovering from foot surgery, I moved my studio upstairs and did a recording project with my own arrangement of the old song "Love Potion #9". My original idea was to do a music video with it but I never got around to it.

I created the entire recording in my home studio with virtual drums, bass, piano, organ, saxes and trumpets along with live trombone and trumpet parts and vocals.

Here's the song

Love Potion #9

The song is available for download at all major music sites like Amazon and Apple Music.








From 2013 to 2020 my group(s) performed at 81 different private events throughout the S.F. Bay Area and Wine Country.

It usually isn't easy to record videos at these types of events so I did a little montage of 5 gigs that I had video from all synced to the same song, Sway.


Montage of the song "Sway"

Then Came Trump!

I was not a supporter of that presidency and my way of protesting was by writing a few songs, some which I also created music videos for.

One of my first Trump music videos was a parody based on Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack". I never published the song as the Ray Charles Foundation Frowned upon political parodies based on his music.

I later wrote my own version called "Hit the Road Mr. Trump", which I did publish and copyright.

Hit The Road Mr. Trump



Hit the Road Trump (2017)


The following year I wrote another one loosely based on the Blues Brothers "Hey Bartender" called the "Donald trump Blues" Shout out to my good friend Russell Golub for his guitar work on this track.

This is one of my favorites!



Donald Trump Blues (2018)


Here's some doo-wop from Joey and the Libtards! based on "You Send me!" This one is really fun with a real New Jersey flair.



You Offend Me(2020)


I was having too much fun making these videos! Another favorite of mine is this one based on John Lennon's "Imagine" called "Imagine There's No Moron".



Imagine There's No Moron (2020)


This was the last one I did before Trump lost the 2020 election, based on Sinatra's "The Best is Yet to Come"



The Worst is Yet to Come (2020)


During this time I was also part of two community orchestras, Holy Names Orchestra and the Oakland Civic Orchestra. The videos below are from two performances with the Oakland Civic Orchestra that featured the brass section and trombone section.


OCO Brass performing Dukas, Fanfare to La Peri (2018)


Trombone trio piece by Robert Schumann (2019)

Then Came Covid!

The Covid pandemic basically shut my live performances down. Any weddings or corporate events I had booked were canceled.

In order to keep the music going, a lot of us started creating virtual performances. This was a lof of fun considering the nightmare we were all going through at that time. Basically to record/produce these projects, I would create a click track for everyone to follow and they would all record their parts. I would then sync all of the music and video tracks to create a virtual performance that appeared to be almost live. Below are some of my creations.


OCO Brass virtually performing Fanfare for Greta (2020)


OCO Low Brass Christmas Carols (2020)



Kiss My Brass virtual Reunion (2020)


The Longest Time (2020)



Straighten Up and Fly Right (2020)

The Covid pandemic had a negative effect through 2021. I had a total of 5 gigs that year.

Another issue i was dealing with was the fact that I had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2018. I retired in 2020.

My wife, an accomplished cellist had been looking for a new job as a cello teacher and couldn't find anything in the S.F Bay Area that would work.

She ultimately found a job opportunity in the Salt Lake City area, and with the rising cost of living in California, and not knowing what to expect from my condition, we decided to sell our house and moved to Utah, which will bring me to the 5th chapter of this musical journey. i would have to start all over again in a new place where I didn't know anyone....



Chapter 5 The Move to Utah (Under Construction)

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